The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group is heading back to the waters east of the Korean peninsula after completing a port visit to Singapore.

North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests and continued pursuit of a nuclear program have raised tensions in the region, where U.S. Navy ships are a common presence and serve in part as a show of force.

The U.S. Pacific Command directed the carrier group to sail north to the western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, according to a Navy news release. The carrier group includes the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, with support from several missile destroyers and missile cruisers.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested the U.S. missile strikes in Syria should send a message to any country, including North Korea, that operating outside international norms is unacceptable.

“If you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken,” Tillerson said.

But Shawn VanDiver, an expert with the Truman National Security Project, does not believe the U.S. military will be forced to strike North Korea.

“The fact is that our equipment is better, our sailors are better trained, they’re better equipped for this mission, and if tensions pop off, I think we’re going to be safe,” VanDiver said.

VanDiver said the U.S. Navy’s show of force will be enough to keep North Korea from using their nuclear arsenal.

“With White House National Security Adviser HR McMaster and Defense Secretary James Mattis at the helm, controlling these sorts of things, I think we’re going to have a measured approach to whatever happens in North Korea,” VanDiver said.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group left San Diego in January with 7,500 sailors. It is routine for the U.S.S Vinson to be deployed to the Western Pacific, but usually not at a time of such high tension around the Korean Peninsula.

“I’m confident that our sailors and Marines are going to come home safely,” he added.


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